I Do

I Do
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It’s Throwback Thursday! Yes, the picture above is of the just-married Mr. and Mrs. Robert Rennie, way back in 1994… Today is our 21st wedding anniversary! I can honestly say that everyday my love for my husband grows more and more. He loves, encourages, challenges, protects and esteems me. And I pray that I do the same for him. There is no one on this earth that I love more than Robert Glenn Rennie. We don’t have any big plans to celebrate this year’s anniversary. Just dinner in a cute little town called Ann Arbor, about 35 miles from where we live. Just for kicks, we are going to take the train there. And that’s it. No gifts. No parties. No flowers. No romantic getaway. It will be simple but wonderful.
Simple but wonderful. As I wrote that sentence, I realized that those words describe our life in general, too. But there was a time when our life, our marriage was anything but that. Mostly, it was by our own fault.
We met at church. On the day he asked me out, it was a rainy cool spring day. We were at a park in intercity Detroit with our church ministering to the homeless, drug addicted and mentally ill. I was doing a puppet show for the kids (yes, there are homeless kids) when he came up to me and asked me out on a date. That week, we went out. A month later we were engaged. Less than a year, we were husband and wife.
Even though we grew up in Christian homes, were actively involved in ministry and got married in the church, we really didn’t receive any pre-marital counseling. I don’t even remember getting any marriage advice. We didn’t read any books or go to any marriage conferences. Sadly, we were too naïve to realize we would need it. While we had no intention of getting a divorce, we were not intentional to make sure we didn’t. We were too immature and selfish to do what was required to get our “happily ever after”.
The first seven years were bad. Really, really bad. The honeymoon phase ended before the honeymoon was even over. For seven years, day in and day out, we lived on the edge of divorce. He behaved poorly and I responded apathetically. In our own different ways, we both contributed. Maybe someday I will tell you about all the mistakes we made. And how God, despite our determination to destroy our marriage, healed it. Healed us. Overnight. And over time. In the most glorious, significant, lovely, complete and everlasting way that a marriage can be healed. In a way that no book or counselor or conference or advice could ever do. It was a healing that could only be done by the One who created the marriage covenant.
I’m not the type of person that looks back too much. In all honesty, I could stand to be a little more sentimental than what I am. But when it comes to our marriage, the future is what we love to think about most. After our marriage was healed, we spent several years making up for lost time. We went on great vacations, our careers were flourishing, we adopted a teenager, and built our dream home. Things were finally on track and we were sharing life. And don’t get me wrong, that was wonderful and it was even needed. But this last third of our married life has far and away been the absolute best.
You see, the first third of our marriage was totally self-centered. The middle third was mostly us-centered. But where we are at now is completely God-centered. Instead of jumping on a plane to fly to some tropical beach vacation, we jump in the car and drive to the family cabin in the northern woods of Michigan. We have given up our high paying, very successful but demanding careers. We are grandparents now (umm.. how can that be?). We sold our dream home, with all its square footage and cathedral ceilings and now live in a little bitty condo. Life for us now is simple and wonderful.
Not because we downsized. Not because we rid ourselves of excess. Not because we have more time. Our life is simple and wonderful because we did those things to make room for more of God. Now, we think about where God wants us to go, who He wants us to help, what He wants to do with our time and our money and our talent. Now, we think about what God wants to do with our marriage. We have let go of our dreams and desires and expectations and given this union back to God. And honestly, in giving those things up, we have found the greatest joy, intimacy, love and fulfillment in our marriage than we ever thought possible. Now we have new dreams and desires that match the ones God has for us.
I know you have heard that marriages are successful when the husband and wife each contribute 50/50. Or maybe you’ve heard it said that each needs to give 100%. Well, I disagree. The secret to marriage is to give God 100%. If you make every part of your marriage a place for God to do His will and showcase his glory, then your marriage will be better than any fairytale ever written. There is a greater purpose for our marriages than a great love story. Its purpose is to make much of Jesus. Our marriages are on loan to us, only to be experienced on this side of eternity. I deeply desire for Rob and I to get it right. And finally, after 2 decades, I think we finally are. To God be the glory.

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